Sunday, March 31, 2013

A first! Homemade, dairy-free truffles!

I had enough soy creamer and chocolate left over after making a ganache tart for dad's birthday that I realized I could also make a small batch of chocolate truffles!

Here are the quantities of ingredients used:

I poured the soy creamer into a small saucepan to heat (not boil), added the chocolate and whisked until the mixture was smooth. After taking the ganache mix off the heat, I added the icing sugar and raspberry flavour, then set the mixture aside to cool. Once the ganache had stiffened up, I began rolling balls of it in the cocoa powder.

The truffles turned out really nicely. The raspberry flavour is — unfortunately — more subtle than I was expecting, but the ganache is nice and smooth. If I make future batches, I might omit the flavouring altogether and might try chocolate-coating the little balls of chocolate Heaven.

Friday, March 29, 2013

And, for dad's birthday...

...a reiteration of the chocolate ganache tart I made for Father's Day last year. This version has been liberally sprinkled with cocoa nibs and sea salt.
Beignet and the Jets

While technically not beignets, I was musically-inspired while making these medium-sized doughnuts and had to name this post after the song that popped into my head.

This is my second attempt at using this doughnut recipe, and while I can't seem to reliably get the second rise of dough to come cleanly off the waxed paper I've been proofing them on, I'm much too happy with the resultant doughnuts to want to look for another recipe. I had slightly better success at maintaining the doughnuts' shape with the ones which were lightly floured before the second rise. The only substitution I've made is to swap the milk out with soy milk. I also halved the recipe because 2 dozen doughnuts is a bit much.

I used this chocolate glaze recipe the last time I made these doughnuts and was disappointed with how runny it ended up being. I also forgot to sift the cocoa, so there were cocoa clumps in the glaze. I decided to try a different recipe this time, consulting Alton Brown's recipe for chocolate glaze, halving this recipe as well. I'm much happier with this glaze. There were a couple of substitutions: soy milk in place of the whole milk, and agave nectar in place of the corn syrup. They might not be very pretty, but the flavour and texture make up for it.

I only get to eat doughnuts when I make them myself, and finding time to do so with a pre-schooler in the house is difficult and potentially hazardous. I decided to take this opportunity — with Matt and Kara visiting his side of the family — to treat myself.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Yeast-bread tips and tricks

I spent years on largely unsuccessful attempts at making yeast breads until I committed to keeping a sourdough starter for a few months in 2007. It wasn't until I did so that I finally began to understand how finicky yeast doughs are, and it took me a few more years until I finally developed a knack for making them. 2010 was my breakthrough year for making successful yeast breads. This included what has become my go-to pizza dough recipe.

My variations on Wolfgang Puck's Pizza Dough Recipe have included using agave nectar or sugar in place of the honey, and working with different blends of white flour and whole wheat flour, from all-purpose to bread flour. I've found that nothing affects the outcome of the final product as much as keeping the yeast "sponge" and dough warm enough during proofing. To achieve this, I've been setting my oven to the lowest setting (170° C) until it preheats, then turning it off. Although this seems like too warm a space to leave things to proof, it ends up being surprisingly ideal. Yeast — as it turns out — can tolerate much higher heat than I'd thought it would.

The recipe I consult calls for all-purpose flour, but bread flour has consistently produced the best results in this household. The choice of sweetener doesn't much seem to matter, as long as it provides "food" for the yeast culture.

Overall, this recipe has yielded fantastic results around here. I don't foresee any need to switch.